Driving in Mauritius (and travelling)

This article covers numerous subjects related to driving and travelling in Mauritius.

You will find, amongst other interesting facts, 3 videos in this article:

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Driving through Mauritius | Speed limits in Mauritius | Defensive driving in Mauritius | Driving on the left side at roundabouts and road signs in Mauritius | Unofficial traffic signs in Mauritius | Parking coupons | Alternative parking in Port Louis as opposed to using coupons | Car Rentals | Petrol stations opening hours | Travelling by bus | Light Rail Travel - Metro Leger

So let's start. In Mauritius you drive on the left hand side and give way to the right.

Driving in Mauritius, and that on left hand side, can be challenging for first timers notwithstanding the  driving culture in Mauritius.

Driving through Mauritius

Whilst driving through Mauritius, you may encounter road works where the traffic is manually controlled by 2 persons at either end, turning stop and go signs instead of traffic lights, police controlling roundabouts, scooters loaded with families of three, pedestrians running across the dual carriage way (motorway), or at night in certain areas of Mauritius, and more so the villages, people playing cards on a table set up in the road's kerb (curb), just to mention a few strange encounters.

The Mauritians' easy-going way of life, friendliness and tolerance can also be experienced when driving. You may be asking for directions and they'll just lead and show you how to get there, even if it means going out of their way to make sure you don't get lost. Paradox is the lack of road courtesy.

Tip: Before setting out for any destination, check Google Maps for shortest route and traffic congestion updates. Whilst driving through Mauritius, and if  appetite sets in, check out Cuisine in Mauritius , Restaurants in Mauritius or a simple take away or home delivery if you are staying in a vacation rental in Mauritius .

Important points

  • Emergency Services Numbers: Police   (+230) 112 Fire (+230) 114   | Ambulance (+230) 115 . Although these are emergency numbers, they may be occupied or not answered, keep on trying. ;)
  • Seat belt: Compulsory in the front and back seats.
  • Children under 10: Can not be seated as front passengers.
  • Drinking and driving in Mauritius: Alcohol limitations are 9 mcg (breathalyser) or 20mg of alcohol in the bloodstream and 27 mg in urine . As of October 2018. Read more .
  • Smoking: Forbidden if there are two or more passengers in the vehicle – including the driver.
  • Safety triangle: The car must be equipped with a safety triangle, a fluorescent jacket and a fire extinguisher.
  • Foreigners with a driving license , issued by a competent authority in their respective country of residence are allowed to drive during their holiday in Mauritius. Also, make sure to check with your ministry of transport (country of residence), if your national driver’s license is permitted for driving in Mauritius, or if an International driver’s license is needed. If so, the 2 have to be presented.
  • Peak traffic hours: You are most likely to encounter heavy traffic between 07:00AM to 09:30AM, and 15:00PM to 18:00PM. It can get pretty congested and slow at about 15km/hr. See tip .
  • There are no toll roads in Mauritius.
  • Mauritius is 2040 km². It is 65 km (40 mi) long and 45 km (30 mi) wide. More about Mauritius .

Stay safe

Be alert for your own security in Mauritius. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would anywhere in the world. Be a smart traveller. Before your trip: Organize comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy. Register your travel and contact details, so that you can be contacted in an emergency.

Some safety advice:
  • Avoid remote areas alone.
  • Do not leave valuables in view in your car.
  • Avoid unexpected offers of (seemingly free) guided tours. Ulterior motives are common.
  • Do not patronise unlicensed taxis (taxi marrons). Some robbers use this trick to lure and attack their victims.

The Tourist Police service (Police du Tourisme), (+230) 213 2818.

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Speed limits in Mauritius

You have 4 types of road in Mauritius:

  1. Dual carriage way - 110 km/h
  2. Primary roads -  60 - 80 km/h
  3. Secondary roads - up to 80km/h
  4. Town and village roads 40 km/h

In residential areas and villages you "should" only drive 40 km/h but not always sign posted, yet some roads signs in town or villages are ambiguous indicating 60km/h. On country roads the speed limit is 80 km/h and on the dual carriage way  (motorway) it is 110 km/h, t axis have to drive slower.

Common sense to auto regulate your speed limit

  • Some villages and towns don't even have pavements, common sense must prevail, reduce speed in those areas.
  • Roads are badly lit at night except dual carriage ways and town roads.
  • Villages and towns have a lot of stray dogs.
  • If you're driving at night beware of drivers under the influence of alcohol.
    • Week-ends especially coastal beach areas where Mauritians camp and party all weekend, be cautious Sunday afternoons when Mauritians head home as from 15:00 PM. In some areas like Flic en Flac, one point of entry and exit Sunday afternoons are subject to traffic jams at snail pace of 15-25 km/h stop and go traffic.
  • Overtaking cycles, mopeds and motor bikes treat them as a car. Mauritians tend to "skim" them when over taking. Make sure that you have half a lane to overtake with ample space. They can suddenly swerve out because of an obstruction in the gutter or a pothole.
  • Drivers in Mauritius tend to tailgate and as such slow down and let them overtake you.
    • Keep your distance from the car in front of you, be prepared to be overtaken to have your space in front of you "hijacked".
  • Dangerous bends where on coming drivers tend to overtake.

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Drinking and driving in Mauritius penalties

If you are caught drinking and driving:

Fine MUR

From to

Suspension or loss of driving license

Detention

Prison

First time offence20,000-50,000Automatically 1 year suspension of driving licenseUntil sobrietyNot applicable
Second time offence50,000-75,000Driving license is revokedUntil sobriety1-8 years
Mauritian residents: Will be informed of date to appear in court for hearing/trial
Foreign nationals: Will be permitted to leave the country however, if they return they will be held in custody. This is obviously open to abuse by the driver and maybe the police officer that may be bribed. What do you think of this as a tourist or Mauritian resident?

Literature

After a lot of research, to update this section, we were able to complete this with the help of Barlen Munusami (Sgt. in the Mauritius Police Force) who is the author of  "The complete driver's handbook" (Mauritius). His book is only available in Mauritius. La Sentinelle is the publisher.

Barlen will be writing a new book next year about defensive driving.

Back to Drinking and driving in Mauritius

Defensive driving in Mauritius

You should definitely apply defensive driving in Mauritius, below is a video to refresh your memory. Obviously the snow and winter part does not apply. You can apply these tips when you return from your holiday in Mauritius. :) The fog section may apply in the center of island 700 meters above sea level but rare. December  to March is the cyclonic period which brings a lot of rain and know what to do when you hydroplane.

Although you are always responsible for the way you operate your vehicle, the one thing you can't control is how other people drive their vehicles. That is why applying the art of defensive driving is so important. In addition to other drivers, it's important to know that defensive driving can also be used in bad weather, car malfunctions, and other hazardous situations.

This video answers the following important questions to help you stay "safer" on the road:

  • What is a "safety cushion" and how do you use it?
  • What part of the lane should your car or vehicle be in?
  • How do you handle a tire blowout?
  • How often should you check your mirrors and what should you look for?
  • What is the "counting rule" and the "three second rule"?
  • What do you do if your car starts to hydroplane?
  • How do you pass trucks and buses differently than cars?
  • What can you do about distracted drivers?
  • How do you handle tailgaters or other aggressive drivers?
  • How to deal with road rage?
  • How to deal with bad weather including snow, rain or other hazards?
  • What do you do in case your car starts skidding?

 

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Driving on the left side at roundabouts and road signs in Mauritius

Probably the most challenging if you have never driven on left hand side. The video tutorial below provides skilled and learner drivers with the accurate information for dealing with roundabouts, along with tips and safety routines. We could all benefit watching this tutorial. If we were able to adhere to these rules driving through a roundabout and a little road courtesy on top of that, we would have less traffic jams.


  • Approaching a roundabout: Vehicles entering a roundabout must give way to any vehicle already in the roundabout.
  • Giving way at a roundabout: The driver must slow down and if necessary, stop to avoid a collision.
  • Turning left: On your approach to a roundabout you must select the left lane, signal left, stay in the left lane to exit.
  • Going straight ahead: Do not signal when approaching the roundabout but always signal left before exiting a roundabout. You may approach the roundabout from either left or right lanes (unless there are road markings with other instructions), drive in the same lane through the roundabout and exit in the same lane.
  • Turning right: On your approach, to a roundabout you must select the right lane, signal right, stay in the right lane and signal left before exiting into the right lane.
  • Making a U-turn: When you use the roundabout to make a U-turn on your approach signal right from the right lane, stay in the right lane, but signal left before exiting into the right lane.
  • Exiting a roundabout: If practical, you must always signal left when exiting a roundabout.

    Driving on left hand side in Mauritius - Roundabouts

Roundabouts and bicycle riders

Bicycle riders are allowed to turn right from the left hand lane. When passing each exit, the rider must give way to any vehicle leaving the roundabout from that exit.

NOTE:

  • There are no cycle lane or path in Mauritius, bicycles ride on the left of the road.
  • Wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle is not mandatory but is recommended.

The diagram shows how to indicate and give way at roundabouts.

Driving on left hand side in Mauritius - Roundabouts

Risks to watch out for

Take extra care whenever you drive in a roundabout:

  • Keep an eye out for cars that are leaving the roundabout
  • Be careful if changing lanes in a roundabout, particularly when leaving
  • Look out for vehicles that are making a full turn
  • Watch for bicycles, long vehicles and motorcycles.

Driving through a roundabout in Mauritius can seem a bit complicated and can be most times, where road signage may be missing. This is where the police takeover and "try" to keep the traffic fluid. Not an easy task. You may ask yourself, why don't they place road signs? Most road signs are made of metal and are often stolen for scrap metal, an ongoing battle to alleviate traffic jams caused by poor signage or road education.

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Unofficial traffic signs in Mauritius

Swipe left (Smart phone).

Unofficial traffic signs in Mauritius

Here are some traffic rules understood by Mauritian drivers and are of common knowledge:

Outstretched hand

whilst driving

I am turning right! If arm at 90 degrees with hand pointing left, then I'm turning left.

in a traffic jam

Caution I am changing lane! Generally doesn't work. You have to give other driver a pleading look and most times than not they let you swap lane.

Car which is driving tightly on the kerb side. Basically slowing down all traffic.
There are no road signs showing minimum speeds, even on dual carriage ways (Motorways).

I don’t really want drive fast, saving on petrol. Please just overtake me.

Note: Mostly cars that are more than 20 years old or elder inexperienced drivers who have just acquired their license.

waving underhand

Overtake!! Now! You can!

Honking shortly

whilst driving

Caution! I am coming! Please stay in your lane because I am overtaking!

at traffic lights

Go! Lights have changed to amber! Probably you know it, but just accelerate. Generally the cars that have more than 2,000 cc. These drivers are more likely to intimidate other drivers.

Honking long

I had the right of way!! Or you took my priority.

Policeman who gives the come on wave, especially  during rush hour

Faster please! How else should this traffic jam ever end?

More on driving in Mauritius

Statistics | Driving Environment | Driver Behaviour | Vehicles | Speed Limits | Traffic Signals | Road Signs | Road Markings | Kerb Markings | Roundabouts | Intersections | Pedestrian Crossings | Railway Crossings | Highways | City Driving | Rural Roads | Night Driving Parking | Oddities

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Parking and coupons

Except for Port Louis, Rose Hill, Curepipe and Quatre Bornes public parking is free of charge and easily accessed. In these towns parking is only possible with parking coupons. Coupons can be purchased in petrol stations (125 in Mauritius) and major supermarkets. They are valid for either half an hour or one hour and have to be perforated with date and time of parking.

It is an offence NOT to perforate parking coupons e.g. you may NOT use a pencil or pen to cross mark arrival time with the intention to reuse the coupon. There are two different parking zone fees and depending on the zone parking is either 10 or 20 Rupees a half hour. Last price hike 2011 .

Counterfeit parking coupons are circulating in Mauritius.The National Transport Authority (NTA) is looking to introduce payment methods used abroad. See this article in French .

Find a list of official coupon resellers . List is provided by the Parking Unit and may not be up to date.

Note: Always park on the left side e.g. the way the traffic is flowing, never on the right side, it is not permitted and you'll get a ticket.

Alternative parking in Port Louis as opposed to using coupons

Caudan Waterfront

If you are driving into Port Louis we would advise you to park in Caudan Waterfront. It costs 85 Rupees for the first 2 hours , but less stressful. The parking tower can easily be found and you won’t have to drive into the city center (if you are driving North into Port Louis and avoid substantial traffic jams.

Park and Ride United Docks (Caudan Waterfront)

Another option is to use the services from Park and Ride .
  1. Parking facilities
  2. 1st hour is free of charge, next 3 hours MUR 100 and a full day MUR 150. This is the cheapest parking you'll find in Port Louis.
  3. Free shuttle is included in the parking rates.

Champ de Mars free parking

Another opportunity for people who know Port Louis, would be parking at the Champ de Mars Racecourse ( hippodrome) , which is only accessible when there are no horse racing events, generally in the summer season (See Peak season in Mauritius ). In our cooler season (April to December) horse racing events are on Saturdays. See related link: Mauritian horse racing through the years .

It is just on the outskirt of Port Louis but you would enjoy "free" parking. Walk about 1,500 meters to the center of Port Louis. In summer you would work up a good sweat, not advisable for those that can't cope with the summer heat exceeding 30 degrees Celsius in the shade. You'll find some Mauritians, especially ladies walk with an umbrella as opposed to a parasol. Practical to stay in the shade. You'd think this would be more convenient and generalised in Mauritius or other hot countries.

Note:

  • Never park under a coconut tree.
  • Don’t leave valuable objects in your car, petty crime is on the rise (unfortunately) in Mauritius.

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Car Rentals

If you want to rent a car in Mauritius, make sure it is an official car rental service. Official car rentals have yellow license plates.

You can find cheap "illegal" car rentals on the internet at half the price to the branded car rentals. The downside, if you have an accident the insurance won't cover you, notwithstanding you and the car owner are committing a criminal act. In such a situation, you would not be able to leave the country until you go to court.
Check Maki Car Rental for extremely competitive rates and a professional approach.
Note: We have no commercial relationship with this company, just endorsing excellent value for money and service.

Petrol stations opening hours

By law petrol stations are obliged to open from 06:00 AM to 20:00 PM.

Refuelling

Petrol stations are usually easy to find. Nevertheless there are almost no 24/7 stations so you better refill the tank before going on a night trip.
La Croisette, Pamplemousses, Calebasses, GRNW, Bagatelle, Curepipe and La Preneuse have 24/7 fuel station.

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Travelling by metered taxi

Taxis are the best way to visit the island. Various tours are available from MUR2,500 : The holy lake, Chamarel 7 coloured earth, Le Morne, dolphin tours in Tamarin and Ile aux Cerfs are among the most appreciated by visitors.

Do not patronise unlicensed taxis. They promise a cheaper ride but, lately, there has been a surge in cases of robbers using this trick to lure and attack their victims.

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Travelling by bus

Mauritius has a good bus network, which is spread throughout the country. So most of the locals use the bus to get around Mauritius.

Mauritian buses are in good conditions. Lately, there has been a major improvement in the bus transport sector in Mauritius. Some buses on the island have now automatic doors, free Wi-Fi and air-conditioned.Air-conditioned buses are usually more expensive.

Travelling by bus in Mauritius is becoming more comfortable on main routes, as for the other routes it's a "special adventure" which is to be considered just for the experience. Furthermore, it is the cheapest way of travelling in Mauritius.

If you have a long distance to travel, make sure you have ample time to return. Depending on the region the last buses leave between 18:00 hrs and 20:00 hrs and in some towns even later but not coastal routes.

The fare for one bus ride varies between MUR 10 to 35 . If you have to change bus you need to purchase a new ticket.

Buses are still manned by a driver and a conductor who walks around collecting fares and issuing tickets after passengers have boarded. Tell the conductor where you want to go and he'll tell you the fare amount. Upon payment, he'll give you a ticket with the charged amount printed on it. Keep your. tickets until you reach your destination. Try to pay with small denominations or the conductor may not have enough change. Intentional over-charging of tourists is not common.

Most conductors are very helpful in providing directions to tourists. In the local Creole dialect, the conductors are called con-tro-lair (literally controller)

Signs on the front side of the bus indicates destination. There are timetables for buses , however not "always" reliable.

The major bus companies in Mauritius are:

  • National Transport Corporation (NTC): (+230) 426 29 38.
  • United Bus Service (UBS):   (+230) 212 20 26.
  • Mauritius Bus Transport (MTB), Long Mountain (Mr. Dhiraj Dosieah):   (+230) 245 25 39.
  • Triolet Bus Service (TBS):   (+230) 261 67 25
  • Rose Hill Transport (RHT):   (+230) 464 12 21
  • Others. Other smaller companies have amusing names such as Apollo and Turbo

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Light Rail Travel - Metro Leger

Mauritius doesn't currently have a railway system... The Mauritius light rail project long awaited should really alleviate traffic congestion.

The Metro Express in Mauritius is currently being constructed and in September 2019 (Phase 1) will be operational from Port Louis to Rose Hill. September 2021 (Phase 2) from Port Louis to Curepipe. The service will span over 26 km.

 

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What is your perspective on driving and travelling in Mauritius? Whether you are Mauritian, Expat or tourist join the discussion below.

More on driving in Mauritius

Statistics | Driving Environment | Driver Behaviour | Vehicles | Speed Limits | Traffic Signals | Road Signs | Road Markings | Kerb Markings | Roundabouts | Intersections | Pedestrian Crossings | Railway Crossings | Highways | City Driving | Rural Roads | Night Driving Parking | Oddities

Traffic Offences, fines and road traffic laws in Mauritius

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